MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Olivia Farr, Ph.D.
Instructor in Medicine
Division of Endocrinology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Ave, Stoneman 820B
Boston, MA 02215
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Farr: There are two main studies. In the first, we used immunohistochemistry to analyze 22 human brain tissue samples for the presence of GLP-1 receptors, which are protein molecules that respond to the GLP hormone’s signal. We found—for the first time—that GLP-1 receptors are expressed in the human brain, including the cortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher thought.
Our second study was performed in 18 adults with type 2 diabetes. Participants received 17 days of either liraglutide, up to 1.8 milligrams, or a placebo (dummy drug) in a random order. Then after a three-week “washout” of no medication, the same participants received 17 days of the opposite treatment. Participants and investigators were unaware which treatment they received. On day 17 of each treatment, participants underwent brain scanning with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). During fMRI, participants viewed images of different foods. In response to highly desirable foods such as cake, pastries and fried foods, liraglutide decreased reward- and salience-related brain activations in the cortex compared with images of less desirable foods, such as fruits, vegetables and other low-calorie, low-fat foods.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Farr: This decreased activation means that individuals on liraglutide find highly desirable foods less attention-grabbing and less rewarding than they typically would without liraglutide. Our study identifies neural targets for more effective weight loss therapeutics in the future.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Farr: We are planning more studies to discover whether we would obtain the same results with the higher liraglutide dose (3mg) approved for obesity. Additionally, we hope to ascertain whether there may be individual differences in terms of the brain’s response to liraglutide and whether any compensatory brain activations may arise at higher doses to curb weight loss.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Dr. Farr: I would like to note that this demanding work was performed as a collaborative effort along with many of my colleagues from the Mantzoros laboratory, under Prof. Christos Mantzoros’ guidance, without all of whom this work could not have been completed. We now plan to embark on longer and larger studies involving higher doses of this analog but also to study other molecules that may prove, over time, to be helpful for our patients.
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- GLP-1 Receptors Exist in the Parietal Cortex, Hypothalamus, and Medulla of Human Brains and the GLP-1 Analog Liraglutide Administered in the Context of a Cross-over, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial Alters Brain Activity in Response to Highly Desirable Food Cues in Individuals with Diabetes
Olivia M. Farr*1, Michail Sofopoulos2, Michael A. Tsoukas1, Fadime Dincer3, Bindiya Thakkar4, Ayse Sahin-Efe5, Andreas Filippaios3, Jennifer Bowers3, Alexandra Srnka3, Anna Gavrieli3, Byung-Joon Ko3, Chrysoula Liakou2, Nickole Kanyuch3, Sofia Tseleni-Balafouta6 and Christos S. Mantzoros7
1Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 2St. Savvas Anticancer-Oncology Hospital, 3Harvard Medical School/ Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 4Harvard Medical School/ Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, 5Harvard Medical School/ Beth Israel Deaconess, 6University of Athens, Medical School, 7BIDMC, Harvard, Boston, MA
2. Lorcaserin Decreases Activation of Attention-Related Brain Centers in Response to Food Cues during a Four-Week-Long Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blinded Clinical Trial
Olivia M. Farr*1, Jagriti Upadhyay2, Anna Gavrieli3, Hannah Mathew3, Maria T Vamvini4, Michelle Camp3, Harper Kaye3, Nikolaos Spyrou3, Anastasia Koniaris3, Holly Kilim3, Alexandra Srnka3, Alexandra Migdal5 and Christos S. Mantzoros6
1Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 2Harvard Medical School/ Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Jamaica Plain, MA, 3Harvard Medical School/ Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 4Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, MA,5Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, 6BIDMC, Harvard, Boston, MA
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Olivia Farr, Ph.D. (2016). Diabetes Drug Liraglutide Makes Cake and Fried Foods Less Desirable MedicalResearch.com